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How to Winterize a Sprinkler System

Posted: December 22, 2021

Knowing how to winterize a sprinkler system is something that all homeowners should know. Whether you just installed your sprinkler system or have had it for years, it’s important to prepare your lawn and garden for the harshness of winter. Winterizing a sprinkler system is relatively simple so long as you follow the specific steps outlined below. This process will help maintain the critical sprinkler components below:

  1. Main water supply pipe
  2. PVC piping
  3. Water meter
  4. Stop/shut off valve
  5. Detach hoses
  6. Sprinkler Head
  7. Sprinkler timer
  8. Backflow device
  9. Backflow isolation valves
  10. Stop and waste valve
  11. Air vents
  12. Valve box

Why Is It Important To Winterize Your Sprinkler Network?

There are many reasons why it’s important to professionally or personally winterize your sprinkler system before the cold weather hits. One of the most important is that if you don’t, the water in your pipes could freeze and cause them to burst. This can lead to a lot of expensive damage, so it’s definitely not something you want to ignore. Another reason you want to winterize your entire system is that it will help your lawn during the colder months. If you don’t shut off the water, the grass in your lawn can continue to grow and this leads to problems as well as wasted water It important to maintain your system to prevent burst pipes and general disruption to your every day life. For example, a damaged backflow preventer – which helps prevent irrigation water from contaminating drinking water, could fail and cause physical harm to your family. If you prefer a professional Sacramento plumber to do this for you, simply give us a call. Otherwise read on for how to DIY your sprinkler system winterization.

Insulating Your Above Ground Sprinkler System Components

It’s also a good idea to insulate your system’s components if they’re located above ground. This can help protect the main valve, heads and pipes from the cold weather which will prevent them from freezing. You can use insulation sleeves, foam insulation wrap, insulation tape, old bedding and/or a backflow preventer cover to keep your sprinkler parts warm.

Sprinkler System Draining Methods

There are three primary methods for draining your sprinkler network. Each process has specific benefits and you may need to try more than one to get all of the water removed from your system. Furthermore, you may be limited on what method you can execute based on the type of sprinkler network you own.

Method 1 – Manual Draining

Manual draining is best done with a garden hose or bucket. Start by opening the main line at the zone valve, and leave it open until all of the water in the system has drained out. This process can take several hours depending on how many cubic feet your yard is, the amount of zones you have, and how many manual drain valves there are in your system. As you open each zone valve a few things will happen. Firstly, all the water pressure is released and the zone will drain out. Secondly, the line(s) and sprinkler heads will start to fill up with air. You have to let the air vent so that it won’t freeze inside your lines which causes them to burst when you turn on the system in Spring.

Method 2 – Automatic Draining

Other networks have irrigation components that automatically bleed the water after the main valve is turned off and your aqua pressure decreases. Activate your system by running a single sprinkler head while the water supply is turned off. It is likely that there will still be some water lingering within the valves themselves. If this happens, locate the solenoid for each valve (the plastic cap that has wires sticking out of the top), then loosen it. This process will allow air to enter into your system while the water flows out.

Method 3 – Blow-Out Draining

The blow out method requires compressed air and an air hose. Before you let the air blow, crack open each sprinkler head and allow any water to drain out. Then use your air compressor/air pressure to blow the water out of the valves. If you don’t have an air compressor just lift up on the riser stem of the sprinkler head, this will cause it to pop off and gravity can do most the work for you.

Run any manual valves you have open: If you have an underground sprinkler system, make sure that each zone has a dedicated valve and they are all open. By running the valves manually (by turning them on) it will ensure that there is no water left in the pipes of your irrigation system by the time winter hits.

Shutoff all valves: You now need to find and shutoff the valve that supplies water to your entire irrigation system. This can be found either on a main line coming from your home or at the point where your city water connection is attached. Now repeat the process of blowing out each sprinkler head.

Remove all system covers: Using a screw driver, pry off any access panels you have to your irrigation system. Then do the same to lids of boxes that house control valves or other electrical equipment. This will allow any precipitation that gathers there to drain before it can cause damage from freezing or condensation.

Why It Is Important To Maintain Your Irrigation System

You should maintain your irrigation system for a few very important reasons. First, it can help you save money on your water bill by ensuring that your system is working as efficiently as possible. Second, it can help prolong the life of your system. And finally, proper maintenance can help reduce the risk of flooding or damage to your property caused by a broken sprinkler system. Winterize your sprinkler system and draining all the remaining water from your lawn sprinkler system with Sacramento Plumbing Solutions today. Schedule your irrigation system winterization with a certified irrigation contractor in early October and no later than November to avoid potential severe damage from freezing temperatures.

Mike Grijalva

Mike Grijalva

Owner and lead plumber at Sacramento Plumbing Solutions. Mike has 10+ years of experience with commercial and residential plumbing jobs. He’s knowledgable in all areas of plumbing including leak detection, sump pumps, water heaters, and high efficiency plumbing solutions.

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